Lokayukta notices to Delhi MLAs on assets ‘politically motivated’, says assembly speaker
Based on advocate and RTI activist Vivek Garg’s petition, the Lokayukta office had issued notices to all Delhi legislators, asking them to furnish details of their assets and liabilities by January 28.
Delhi assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel on Tuesday said the state Lokayukta’s notices to city MLAs for divulging their assets and liabilities was “politically motivated” and demanded penal action against the complainant, who, he suggested, could face a breach of privilege case in the House.
Based on advocate and RTI activist Vivek Garg’s petition, the Lokayukta office had issued notices to all legislators, asking them to furnish details of their assets and liabilities by January 28.
In a letter to Delhi Lokayukta Reva Khetrapal, Goel said the Lokayukta’s office was not empowered to seek such details of MLAs, leave alone the speaker and deputy speaker of the Delhi Assembly.
No comment was forthcoming from Khetrapal and repeated calls and messages to her went unanswered.
Questioning the “tearing hurry” of the Lokayukta in sending notices, the speaker said he was seeking the assembly secretariat’s advice on whether proceedings for contempt and breach of privilege of the House can be initiated against the complainant, who is also linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“On January 9, the Lokayukta received a complaint and sent notices within a day. What was the hurry that the Lokayukta did not even take 2-3 days to scrutinise the petition and its content?” Goel said at a press conference.
“Also, the letter sent to the assembly secretary sought details of only 66 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs while leaving out all the four BJP legislators. Why did the Lokayukta not dismiss the petition as it did not seek any details from the BJP MLAs. It is a 100% politically motivated move,” he alleged.
In his letter, the speaker suggested a complaint be filed as per the Lokayukta Act so that the petitioner is penalised and sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment for filing “false” and “baseless” complaints.
The speaker said the peticlaim that the MLAs were bound to declare their assets and liabilities as per the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013 was not correct.
This provision technically applies only to MPs and central government employees. But, they too are not bound by it because, as per a Government of India memorandum, public servants need not furnish details of assets and liabilities until new rules are framed by the Centre, Goel said citing rules and documents.
Goel said all MLAs, including chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who were covered by the Lokayukta notice, could submit their replies and declare their assets. “A number of MLAs sought advice from me as I am the chairperson of the Assembly. That is also why I wrote to the Lokayukta. I have, however, suggested to the MLAs that there is no provision as such for filing details of assets and liabilities by them before a competent authority,” he said.
Leader of opposition in the Delhi Assembly, Vijender Gupta, criticised the ruling party. “AAP, which came to power four years ago on the plank of honesty and transparency in public life, is surprisingly opposing the notice issued by the Lokayukta. Why are chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and all other AAP MLAs so averse to declaring their assets? We already said all four BJP MLAs are going to declare their assets and liabilities,” Gupta said.